Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Glenavon manager Gary Hamilton knows benefit of experience

Telegraph Sport: where the debate starts

Gary Hamilton is more manager than player for Glenavon these days
Gary Hamilton is more manager than player for Glenavon these days

It's third placed Glenavon against Danske Bank Premiership leaders Cliftonville tomorrow.

Everyone expected the champions to be at the top end of the table, but the Lurgan Blues have surprised a few with their results this season.

Glenavon player/manager (more manager than player these days) Gary Hamilton deserves much praise for that.

Hamilton, one of the finest 21st century Irish League footballers, has a reputation for enjoying a drink and a smoke (the latter sometimes at half-time) and early on in his managerial career he took stick for wearing jeans on the touchline instead of a tracksuit or jacket and tie.

But the bloke knows his football, more than his reputation gives him credit for.

A wonderful illustration of that was recruiting defender William Murphy and striker David Rainey in the summer.

Murphy is 39 and Rainey 37. Other managers would not have touched them with a barge pole, but Hamilton knew that rather than their ages being a negative it would work as a positive in his dressing room.

So it has proved with Murphy and Rainey, who've always kept themselves fit, enjoying fine seasons to date.

Leaving Linfield and Crusaders respectively was a wrench for Winkie and Davy, but their moves to Mourneview Park presented them with new challenges.

Knowing the two of them I'm not shocked by how they have responded.

With more medals in their cabinets than Cliftonville's Liam Boyce has goal celebrations, Murphy and Rainey are used to winning and have brought that mentality to Glenavon.

Shrewd thinking from Hamilton who clearly knows the benefit of experience.

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